Overview of the 19th “Asia Pacific Forum, Awaji Conference Japan” Forum

Picture Symposium 2018

  • Date:
    Saturday August 4 2018
  • Location:
    Awaji Yumebutai International Conference Center
    (1 Yumebutai, Awaji-shi, Hyogo, Japan)
  • Theme:
    "Cities in Competition -Creativity and Diversity-"
  • Details:
    • ○Keynote Proposal
      Fumiharu Mieno(Professor & Deputy Director,Center for Southeast Asian Studies,Kyoto University)
      1) Creating Cities with a Power of Culture
      Yoshifumi Muneta(Vice President;Professor,Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences;and Director,Kyoto WASHOKU institute of Kyoto Prefectural University)
      2) Believe in the Power of Flowers and Plants:Working Toward a Flower Park that Makes a Deep Impression
      Konami Tsukamoto(Chief Director,Hamamatsu City Flower and Green Promotion Foundation/ Tree Doctor)
      3) A Model of Sustainable Provincial Town
      -Cooperation at the Municipal level/ Looking for collaboration-
      Hiroshi Yahagi(Research Fellow,Ryukoku University)
    • ○Parallel Sessions
      Group 1: Culture and Cities
      Moderator:Ichiro Nagayoshi(President & CEO,Kobe Digital Labo Inc.)
      Group 2: Nature Regeneration and Cities
      Moderator: Masaru Nakao(Presiding Partner,ARCO PATENT OFFICE)
      Group 3: International Competitiveness in Cities
      Moderator: Takayuki Satake(Professor,Institute of Business and Accounting,Professional Graduate School,Kwansei Gakuin University)
    • ○Plenary Session
      Coordinator: Sachiko Kubota(Professor,Graduate School of Intercultural Studies,Kobe University)
    • ○Summary & Acknowledgements

      Koji Murata(Professor,Faculty of Law,Doshisha University)

The forum began with a greeting by Representative Director Satoshi Iue of the Awaji Conference Japan.This was followed by three speakers’keynote proposals,with Professor and Deputy Director Fumiharu Mieno of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies,Kyoto University,serving as coordinator.Afterwards,upon being divided into three parallel sessions, the forum participants engaged in active discussion on their respective themes.

At the plenary session held in the afternoon after lunch,Professor Sachiko Kubota of the Graduate School of Intercultural Studies,Kobe University served as coordinator.The plenary session began with a report by the moderator of each parallel session on the key points of the discussion held in sessions.This was followed by further in-depth discussion with the involvement of all the participants.The two-day Awaji Conference was concluded with the presentation of a summary and acknowledgements from Professor Koji Murata of the Faculty of Law,Doshisha Universtiy.

Main points of the Keynote Proposals
“Creating Cities with a Power of Culture”
Yoshifumi Muneta( Vice President;Professor,Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences;and Director, Kyoto WASHOKU institute of Kyoto Prefectural University)

Machiya(a long townhouse-like residential architecture)has become a boom in Kyoto in the past 20 to 30 years.As young and new people have helped spread machiya restaurants,a very creative Japanese cuisine culture has been spreading.

Twenty years ago,Kyoto City created a residential area revival guide plan in the“Tanoji character district”(a district shaped like boxes within boxes)in central Kyoto and has been promoting urban development while preserving the town houses.

In the“Kyoto creation”policy initiated by Kyoto City 15 years ago,a frame of culture,landscape and tourism was created.It became clear that one model is to use culture to trigger creativity,to establish landscapes and increase tourists in order to use culture.

Now,Asia’s urban policy is based mainly not only on protecting historical cultural assets but also how to maximize the use of historical cultural assets.

During the 70 years since the end of World War II,the number of tourists in the world has continued to increase.

This further boosted tourism exchanges,advanced cultural art markets in developed countries,and increased exchange opportunities and distribution volume.On the other hand,exchange and distribution gradually began spreading in developing countries.

“Cultural power to fuse”is the cultural and tourism strategies that strengthen the international dissemination capabilities of diverse cultures and make the best use of the ethnic,historic and cultural characteristics of cities.

This can be the future potential of Asia.

In the era of population onus,Japan entered the era of maturity from the era of growth.The age of maturity will go from competition to cooperation and become the century of creativity.

The expanding tide of the creative city is likely to involve all of Asia and create new innovative power“creating cities with a power of culture”in matured Asian urban cities.

“ Believe in the Power of Flowers and Plants:Working Toward a Flower Park that Makes a Deep Impression”
Konami Tsukamoto(Chief Director,Hamamatsu City Flower and Green Promotion Foundation/ Tree Doctor)

Based on the belief that flowers attract people,many botanical gardens and flower parks have been created all over Japan.However,many are facing difficult management situations.

Under such circumstances,in 1994,I became in charge of the planting design of flower parks and creating gardens at Ashikaga Flower Park,and then decided to be involved in management.I started managing by calling the garden“the most beautiful wisteria garden in the world,”and the garden instantly turned a profit.

Just as there is a break-even point in business,there is something called an emotional break-even point in our mind.I learned that if we build a garden that exceeds that emotional break-even point,business will be profitable and that beauty can be delivered to everyone.

I resigned as the head of Ashikaga Flower Park three years ago and became the chief of operations of Hamamatsu Flower Park five years ago.

In management,I thought about how to make use of existing funds and decided to“aim to create the world’s most beautiful cherry blossom and tulip gardens.”At the time,there were few gardens with both cherry blossoms and tulips,so I was determined to make the garden overwhelmingly beautiful.A year ago,I also created a wisteria trellis.

I hope to make this a beautiful garden that really shines brightly.

The thing I wanted most as chief at Hamamatsu Flower Park was to launch within the compounds a guidance class to help the social adjustment of children who refuse to attend school.I began working on this as soon as I took the position.

From my second year as chief,we have been working with young male and female“hikikomori”(people who live like hermits,not leaving their rooms or homes for long periods of time)with the cooperation of Hamamatsu-City-based non-profit organization Hikikomori Support Center.

We are now planning to invite children with developmental disorders and cultivate flower seedlings with them in the future.

I hope that the beauty of flowers and nature gives people kind hearts and the power to live life positively.

“ A Model of Sustainable Provincial Town -Cooperation at the Municipal level/ Looking for collaboration-”
Hiroshi Yahagi(Research Fellow,Ryukoku University)

Although businesses and people are forced into competition amidst globalization,isn’t it now an era of competition between cities?

When thinking about the potential sustainability of “the model of cities” as not only the visible form, the physical and architectural environment but also as a comprehensive look at the way people work and live, we find that the resources of rural cities are limited.With such limits,the issue is whether to compete as we had in the past or cooperate within metropolitan areas.

Before the mergers of cities in the Heisei Era,the basic policy of the Ministry of Home Affairs was unionism and collaborationism.But it suddenly changed to the Heisei Era’s merger-centered policy from around 1998. Local decentralization was also publicized simultaneously with inter-city competition.The Heisei mergers involved cities with weak financial bases and cities without administrative capacity being merged or swallowed by big cities.

However,when both decentralization and inter-city competition are conducted simultaneously,it eventually generated synthesis errors, resulting in the weakening of central urban areas.

In terms of competition,the basic concept of cooperation is to complement what the other is lacking,to help each other out,and boost each other up to the next level.

On July 5,2018,the 32nd Regional System investigation committee was launched within the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications based on the belief of“new regions”made up of multiple municipalities as new administrative bodies.The concern then was to maintain administrative service levels at each new region.

The fact is the ministry turned to“mergerism”around 1998,but now -- 20 years later -- it is once again reviewing the mechanism of urban administration by thinking of cooperation within the metropolitan area rather than conducting mergers.

Overviews of the Discussions in the Parallel Sessions
Parallel Session 1:Culture and Cities
Moderator:Ichiro Nagayoshi(President & CEO,Kobe Digital Labo Inc.)

During the first parallel session,titled“Culture and Cities,”we received various opinions from numerous people.

First,Dr.Sasaki,who participated as a panelist the previous day,said that after Europe introduced the euro,cities began to appeal for European unity and diversity,and generated cultural city functions.In Asia,as a result of the progress of economic growth and democratization of East Asia,some participants said that many cultures crossed borders.Some mentioned the formation of cooperative events of cultural art from Japan,China,and South Korea called“East Asian Cultural City.”

Positive criticisms included participants pointing out the delay in cultural formation due to efforts in Kobe’s post-earthquake recovery.Someone suggested that there is an important culture that should be called a“disaster culture”?referring to a culture cultivated by the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake.Some said that it is the world’s only cultural value of its kind.

Others posited that cities cannot survive without cultural arts.Someone said that Kobe should aim to become a resilient creative city. Others fiercely debated on the definition of a city function itself.

Regarding sightseeing,we got a new opinion on inbound tourism.Someone said tourists who visit the same place for the second time have a narrow scope of areas they visit,so it may be necessary to propose tourism in a wide area such as in Japan’s Setouchi region in the future.

Next,during discussions about regions,someone stated that historical culture specializing in Kobe City’s Hyogo Ward remains.Historical culture disappears if people forget.We need people with strong convictions.That’s what it means for regions to understand culture.

In addition,there are two kinds of cultures -- high culture and subculture.One opinion was that in cultural anthropology,life itself should be considered a culture.

In the discussion about Smart Cities and Creative Cities,someone pointed out that cities around the world are aiming to be both amidst urban competition,but Creative Cities are often possible under democracy and freedom,whereas state management was a big part of Smart Cities.

There was an opinion that creative aging is important as a way to increase the labor population in the backdrop of a shrinking population.Someone insisted that a 65-year-old is not actually elderly.

While discussing multicultural symbiosis,someone said that that the dialogue slightly lacked consideration for creativity and diversity in daily life.

Another participant suggested potential in the power of art.Since the world began positively evaluating the art of Australia’s indigenous Aborigini people in the 1970’s,it greatly changed the image of the Aborigini who used to be called barbarians.

Because some participants were from foreign consulates,we also received explanations of efforts in each country,such as changes in China’s urbanization process and changes in important policies. In addition,people from various countries have said that there are various possibilities for diversity and tolerance in Japanese culture.

Parallel Session 2:Nature Regeneration and Cities
Moderator:Masaru Nakao(Presiding Partner,ARCO PATENT OFFICE)

In the second parallel session,many participants gave their opinions on the theme of“Nature Regeneration and Cities”regarding building cities filled with richness and the appeal of co-existence between humans and nature.

First of all,regarding“nature regeneration,”many participants noted that the concept of nature is different from the concept of urban greening.There is an image that anything that was made green will return to nature without maintenance,which will lead to nature revival.

One effect of greening the city is disaster prevention.One example is tidal forests when tsunamis hit.Another is the difference between places with or without dense forests in the midst of recent heavy rains.When the Great Hanshin Earthquake shook western Japan,dense forests played a role in stopping fire from spreading.In that way,someone pointed out that nature can be effective for disaster prevention.

The other effect of greening urban areas is human sensitivity.Someone mentioned the effects of human emotions such as wanting to constantly stay in the same place,calm down, or heal.In cities across Europe and the United States -- such as the nature-rich environment of Olympia,the capital city of Washington state, and Garden City,Christchurch in New Zealand ?citizens voice their strong opinions on the city landscape and have strong awareness as landscapes being public assets.Their feelings are so strong that some people criticize their neighbors’lawns.Such trends are not yet common in Japan,but participants realized that these differences exist when observing it globally.Someone also mentioned how when the cityscape becomes clean like Christchurch,it leads to charm and vibrancy as a city,and increases its appeal as a tourist destination.

Someone also brought up the subject of recovery since the Great Hanshin Earthquake.In terms of human regeneration,there were examples of giving flowerbeds to people living in so-called reconstruction houses and getting them to plant trees.Another effective case that was introduced include the school education Ms.Tsukamoto is doing ?having each child decide his/her own tree(called“my tree”)and having the child talk to the tree.Someone pointed out that we should emphasize one effect that interaction with plants(which are roots of life itself)can have on urban life filled with buildings and collective housing.

When making a city landscape,there is a choice to make the landscape inside or outside.Urban greenery will obviously require maintenance.In recent Japanese parks,there is a priority for planting tall trees rather than shrubs in order to provide security.Someone said that in landscape greenery,we should not forget attention to quality rather than quantity since it is also necessary to design urban landscapes with consideration to life expectancy depending on the location to be greened.

Mr.Atkinson’s lecture mentioned that greenery,flowers and trees are time-limited as tourism resources,so it is difficult to utilize.Even at this parallel session,people agreed that trying to get customers by gathering rare flowers would have little potential.However,others added that tourism resources can come to life by adding touching elements or added value that leaves an impression.

Parallel Session 3:International Competitiveness in Cities
Moderator:Takayuki Satake( Professor,Institute of Business and Accounting,Professional Graduate School,Kwansei Gakuin University)

The third parallel session discussed the theme“International Competitiveness in Cities.”Based on this two-day discussion, I raised the following four points to trigger discussions.

The first point is population decline.Historically,no countries or regions have fulfilled economic growth amidst a shrinking population. As mentioned in yesterday’s keynote speech,the problem of making up for a decline in population somehow is the major issue for strengthening the competitiveness of cities.What kind of measures are being taken to combat this issue? Inter-city competition in Japan can be called a“service battle”if one mistake is made.I nter-city competition is fiercely intensifying.To name a few examples,there are establishing foundations for nursery schools and after-school daycare for children or offering free medical costs for children aged up to junior high school or high school.By adding value such as regions that are attractive or easy to live in,it may be possible to proceed with region creation with U-turn,I-turn and J-turn measures.I introduced cases in which many Tokyoites moved to Okinawa,lived in Okinawa,and launched their own businesses there.

The second point is about urban functions.The head office of Eli Lilly and Company remained in Kobe,not in Tokyo nor Osaka.During conversations at Eli Lilly, people said,“The ultimate is a brightly lit night.”This is not contrary to a work-life balance.Some people work in the middle of the night under global discretionary labor regulations,so the subways operates 24 hours as a city function,further extending restaurant business hours to accommodate workers.Some people may start drinking alcohol in the morning.These are urban functions amidst globalization.This may change the discussion to what is a comfortable or easy-to-work town and whether drinking alcohol in the morning is considered vulgar.However,strengthening such urban functions becomes a major point of controversy.

The third point is the issue of IR(integrated resorts)though it was not discussed in depth at this subcommittee.

Although casinos are often emphasized in discussions about IR,casinos are just one means of IR.During this two-day discussion,there was a debate about MICE(meeting,incentive travel / tour,conference / convention,exhibition / event)plus resort.Someone noted that Singapore was a good example for capturing inbound tourists.Therefore,we talked about whether we should consider so-called medical tourism.

The fourth point is that the relationship between universities and cities is very important.Cities with many universities have a competitive edge.Having universities means that there will be an accumulation of knowledge as well as a lot of young people.Naturally,that will attract a lot of companies.Thus,from the viewpoint of research,employment,and population,I posited that universities and cities have a very inseparable relationship.

As a matter of discussion,one big theme could be creating a city in Japan that can beat overseas cities amidst the competition.On the other hand,I think that another major point of controversy is strengthening the competitiveness of cities as a strategy for inter-city competition in Japan and a way to break the concentration of resources in Tokyo.

Dr.Yahagi,who gave a lecture today,gave us some major suggestions.One is the problem of major mergers of towns and cities in the Heisei Era.One unwritten rule of the Heisei mergers was that,as a principle of complementarity,it is better to entrust small organizations with things that only small organizations can do,and if they cannot,the only solution was to merge small organizations with bigger ones.This is the equivalent to saying that if you cannot do it,you should simply do as you are told.That is not self-sustaining at all.This unwritten rule forces cities to lose city functions.

At the same time,tolerance is very important for boosting the competitiveness of cities.In the case of Singapore,we ultimately had Murata raise the question of whether or not Singapore was tolerant of the gay community.Tolerance has become a major factor for enhancing urban functions.Recent points of controversy dictate that tolerance led to the collapse of the middle class,which led to a wider disparity.Thus,someone pointed out that there are various problems in the relation between urban functions and tolerance and the resulting city creation or the creative thinking involved in the creation of cities.

Furthermore,what kind of issues are there for further attracting foreign companies? We also discussed the population from the viewpoint that even though the population is now decreasing,it is increasing compared to the Edo Era and Japan’s high economic growth period of the 1950s to 1960s.

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